Raise a toast at 30 Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ bars and eateries known for their welcoming vibe and diverse clientele.
As one of the best foodie cities, Toronto offers a wide array of places to grab a pide, share a sushi boat or indulge in killer cocktails. 2SLGBTQ+ travellers are spoilt for choice with gay bars, lesbian bars and queer-owned, -managed and -positive eateries across the city. Here are 30 worth discovering.
#1. Elaborate cocktails
In true tiki bar tradition, Parkdale’s queer-friendly Shameful Tiki Room specializes in elaborate rum-based cocktails. Guests chow down on popcorn cauli, mochiko chicken and kimchi grilled cheese. Subdued lighting. Intimate ambience.
#2. Game night grub
Church-Wellesley Village (aka The Village) is Toronto’s queer hub, and the perfectly situated, two-storey Churchmouse pub is hopping on game night (big TV screens). It’s a popular post-practice watering hole for local LGBTQ+ sports teams. Standard pub fare with some extra touches, such as truffle parmesan fries.
#3. Vegan Mexican on College
Chef-owner Ivan Castro’s plant-based Mexican dishes at La Bartola were inspired by the food his mother and grandmother prepared in his hometown of Mexico City, such as chorizo-cactus tacos.
#4. Nerd-friendly fare
Storm Crow Manor is known for Rue Morgue Horror Trivia nights, cartoons, board games, fantasy memorabilia and sci-fi-themed drinks and food (Dracary’s Platter, Doctor Who-ben Sandwich). Toronto’s geekiest, queer-friendly bar is in a renovated Victorian mansion in The Village.
#5. Pub grub in Leslieville
LGBTQ+ staff and clientele create the welcoming vibe at The Roy Public House, aka The Roy. Regulars at this Leslieville spot recommend the cauliflower bites and chicken poutine, as well as fish & chips, washed down with a pint.
#6. Sweet spot in The Village
Skip dessert at lunch and pop into Craig’s Cookies to choose from 100 scrumptious varieties, then grab a coffee to go and enjoy your sweet in the greenspace outside the 519 Church Street Centre.
#7. Community coffee hangout
2SLGBTQ+ visitors have their pick of nine Toronto locations of Jimmy’s Coffee, known for their allyship with Toronto’s LGBTQ+ community. Great coffee, mouth-watering desserts and snacks. Ossington location’s vibe? Feels like your bestie’s living room.
#8. Trans-friendly on The Danforth
Mandy’s Bistro, which serves hearty pub fare on The Danforth, took over the space once occupied by the queer-friendly Old Nick’s pub. Mandy Goodhandy hosts Trans Social every Thursday night, plus cabarets, poetry readings and other performances.
#9. Drag, brunch and books!
Glad Day Bookshop, the oldest queer bookstore in the world, reinvented itself as a bookstore, bar, café and entertainment space featuring some of the best drag in Canada. Drag Sunday Brunch in The Village fills up fast.
#10. Soul-warming Persian food
Queer activist/restaurateur Samira Mohyeddin and her siblings serve traditional Iranian food in their Queen West restaurant, Banu. The menu includes rack of lamb as well as barberry rice and chicken. Lots of table-to-table chatter!
#11. Montreal bagels on St. Clair
Queer and non-binary owner Lev Levine’s Lox & Schmear in St. Clair West Village offers tasty bagel sandwiches (some vegan, some gluten-free) in a minimalist setting decorated with old family photos.
#12. A taste of the Mediterranean
Niki Tsourounakis’ Bar Neon in Bloordale Village attracts a diverse crowd who come for the Greek food, mezes, cocktails, craft beers and the friendly vibe enhanced by the arty interiors and the relaxed back patio.
#13. Hawaiian on Queen West
Queer-owned Miss Thing’s Hawaiian cocktail bar and restaurant now has its own dance floor. The food (poke bowls, tempura corn fritters and other classic Hawaiian dishes) pairs well with the tropical cocktails.
Also see: Queen Street West Art Crawl
#14. Latin cuisine in Roncesvalles Village
The driving force behind the female-led, 2SLGBTQ+-friendly Bacan family restaurant is artist-entrepreneur Guillermina Buzio. The dishes, mostly Argentinian and Venezuelan, are made from scratch at this Roncesvalles spot.
#15. Middle Eastern pizza!
Levant co-owners Nader and Tamer are proud of their heritage (Palestinian and Lebanese, respectively). The result: a queer-friendly restaurant serving traditional Sicilian pizza and focaccia with tasty Middle Eastern ingredients.
#16. Date night pizza and cocktails
Patrons flock to The Drink Cocktail & Pizza Bar in The Village for delicious pizzas (toppings include pear, pepperoni and pineapple), smart cocktails and nightly drag shows. What’s not to love?
#17. Bears and drag queens: the perfect mix!
O’Grady’s On Church appeals to an eclectic crowd—as does the menu (mac ‘n’ cheese squares to Nutella French toast). The back patio is popular with the bear crowd; the upstairs nook, The Lodge, hosts drag shows and screenings RuPaul’s Drag Race.
#18. Intimate dining
For a quieter ambience, consider Smith Restaurant, just north of Barbara Hall Park. Tantalizing mains include agnolotti with lobster and prosciutto-wrapped seared tuna, but don’t skip appetizers such as crispy fried broccoli and Korean beef tartar.
#19. Excellent for brunch
The Cherie Bistro, in the heart of the gaybourhood, serves lunch and dinner but pulls out the stops for brunch: Grand Marnier French toast, paneer parmigiana and wild mushroom fusilli pasta.
#20. The Village’s own “Cheers”
Everyone is welcome at Hair of the Dog, which includes the main-floor restaurant and bar, upstairs lounge, rooftop patio and a side patio. Contemporary food plus innovative drinks. Try the raspberry vodka-infused So Good It’s Got to Be Gay.
#21. Just over on Jarvis
The affable Jimmy Vasilakakos transformed the historic Blake House mansion into one of the city’s most popular queer-friendly pub restaurants—which features a large, tree-shaded patio. Extensive food and spirits list. Try baked poutine for sharing!
#22. Boozy slushy, anyone?
Restobar by day, raucous drag bar by night, Church Street Garage’s Tension Release Sundays are popular, as are weekend drag shows. Hearty fare includes fish & chips, classic Greek wraps and plenty of pasta.
#23. Pescatarian aplenty
Anglr, the cozy Leslieville eatery run by brothers Chad and Tate Welton, offers a diverse menu, but fish and seafood definitely rule: oysters, chowder, clams, mussels, calamari. Relaxed atmosphere.
#24. Drag trivia nights in East York
Drag trivia—and drag bingo—hosted by CC’s Bar and Grill owners CeCe and Natasha lure the LGBTQ+ crowd to this no-frills spot in the Coxwell and Danforth area. Pork dumplings, burgers and wings. Incredibly friendly vibe.
#25. Hotel dining with flair
Parkdale’s Drake Hotel has long been a hub for the art-loving queer crowd who enjoy smart cocktails and delicious food in the café, the lounge or on the rooftop patio.
Also see: Toronto’s Most Intriguing Hotel Bars
#26. Late-night and lively
Pinkerton’s Snack Bar in the Gerrard East neighbourhood is a small, 2SLGBTQ+ friendly spot where tasty small plates rule: bao buns, Kung Pao cauliflower bites, duck-fried rice, chicken satay, tofu salad. Inventive cocktails include Pink’s Mezcal Mule. Sometimes loud—but always welcoming!
#27. Fine Dining on Sherbourne
Maison Selby offers fine dining on Sherbourne Street in a renovated mansion that housed the long-gone and greatly missed Boots gay bar. After dinner, pop downstairs to the Bar Sous Sol speakeasy for a late-night cocktail.
#28. Coffee time on Queen
The contemporary decor (glazed cement, red walls and copper pendant lighting) renders queer-friendly local chain Hot Black Coffee hip and cozy at the same time. Mid-day munchies: ginger molasses cookies, salads and, of course, strong java.
#29. Neapolitan-style pizza
Anything goes—and all are welcome—at Vatican Gift Shop, an east-end speakeasy bar that specializes in tossed Neapolitan-style pizza, imaginative cocktails, wines and local craft beers.
#30. Casual dining in the Village
Sambucas on Church serves fuss-free Italian food. Their excellent three-course prix-fixe is available at both lunch and dinner.